Phillip Island WorldSBK: We took a knife to a gunfight – Rea

| | WorldSBK
Picture: GeeBee Images

Reigning WorldSBK Champion Jonathan Rea is not used to getting beat at all, but far less taking three second places on the same weekend, under the new rules that came into being at Phillip Island.

His problem was both Alvaro Bautista and his Aruba Ducati. Rea praised the rider but thinks the hyper-high revving and expensive Ducati is too much.

The comment from the four-time champion on the Ducati’s pace exiting corners, and going down straights, illustrates Rea’s thoughts on where he is at with it all. “It is completely clear to see where we are struggling. Right now we have a knife in a gunfight, and there is no substitute for horsepower.”

Rea also feels there is nothing he needs to change on his own bike, as it stands within the maximum rev rules at least.

“What can we change?” he said. “Our chassis is incredible, electronics are working great. Our bike is an 18,000 Euro bike from a shop. We need to keep Superbike as simple as possible. But when you have homologation specials and a bike that revs to 16,000 rpm - I am sure the technical guys are pulling their hair out - because it is very easy to see from TV the advantage they have.

“In the last years when I have been in dominating form, I have never had the fastest bike out there. It has always been a slog and fitting the whole jigsaw together. Right now what we are seeing is that – not just us – but all manufacturers compared to Ducati have a huge disadvantage.

“I was complaining to Pere and Kawasaki, but then my bike is the best it has ever been. We have made a step from last year. I feel more for the guys that are struggling even more. Guys like Tom, or whatever, who has even worse power.”

The Ducati’s 16,350rpm upper rev limit is all perfectly legal, as it is based on the real performance of the streetbike. But what a streetbike, with so much MotoGP influence and a massive engine capability with all those revs on hand.

So the way is for everybody else to go and build their own high budget homologation special and go racing to win again? Not so days Rea.

“That is not logical. Manufacturers cannot do this. None of the Japanese manufacturers can do this, it is not part of their philosophy. I am not really technical guys, so do not understand, really. But I know that right now the advantage they have is too much, to make it interesting, to make it interesting to fight.

“I can only have nightmares about the two straights in Thailand. It is 800 metres, the first straight. This is taking nothing away from Alvaro, he is doing an incredible job. In both races he was incredible.”

Rea, who had been nervous of his tyres over race distance after some bad experience over full and uninterrupted races, offered a reason why the higher revving, more powerful Ducati was not using its tyres as much. More power should equal a harder time for the tyres.

““I think it looks like, with the vee-four configuration of the engine and how the bike is making its power, it is very kind on the tyre. The mechanical traction they have is much more. So they are able to be more progressive on the exits, and not destroy their tyre like an inline four would do.”

With Ducati and Bautista dominating at PI in round one, Rea is keen that different tracks may bring different results. “I really hope that this is not the trend of the championship,” said Rea. “When I was following Alvaro in the short corners, we were much stronger. So fortunately for me we go to tracks with lots more tight corners and heaving braking, change of direction. I am in a much better position than I was in last year, unfortunately the competitors have a huge advantage right now.”